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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  March 19, 2013 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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>> every loss of life is heartbreaking. whether that occurs in afghanistan, hawthorne, nevada, camp lejeune, north carolina, or anywhere else. >> reporter: the military has issued a moratorium on firing 60-millimeter mortars until an investigation is complete. >> typically a 60-millimeter mortar is manned by one or maybe two people. the fact that you had so many casualties here would indicate that there were other gun crews and trainees nearby. >> reporter: the troops involved in the training accident belong to the second marine division, a ground combat force stationed at camp lejeune in north carolina. they were taking part in mountain warfare training. >> the president's thoughts and prayers go to the families of those who were lost and to those who were injured. we are obviously in the early stages of assessing the incident. it's a tragedy, clearly. >> reporter: a two and a half hour drive outside of reno, the
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hawthorne army depot is a sprawling 230 square mile facility with hundreds of buildings used to store and, as we saw today, dispose of ammunition. the desert terrain here is ideal for training special forces for deployments to regions like afghanistan. while the injured remain in area hospitals the identities of those killed have yet to be publically released. the incident among the most deadly since seven marines were killed when two helicopters collided in arizona last year. tonight the military is once again investigating a deadly accident here at home. five marines are said to be in critical condition at the hospital. one in fair condition. later this evening, just down the road from here, a vigil will be held for the victims. brian? >> miguel almaguer in the desert for us tonight. miguel, thanks. it was ten years ago tonight u.s. forces on the order of george w. bush unleashed what later became known as shock and awe. a massive aerial assault that
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lit up the night sky in baghdad. we were told it would be a quick war. it was about finding and stopping weapons of mass destruction and we would be greeted as liberators. that did not turn out to be the case. now a decade later in our latest poll, a clear majority of americans say the iraq war was not worth it -- the cost in american lives or dollars. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel spent the better part of the last decade covering the war. he has our report tonight. >> reporter: today, baghdad looked like the place many american troops will remember. more than a dozen bombings, dozens dead. ten years after president bush launched shock and awe and toppled saddam hussein, the iraq war has started again. sunnis versus shiites. it's their fight now. but both sides blame the united states for blundering in, looking for weapons of mass destruction that weren't there, undoing iraq's delicate religious balance.
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hardly the stability desired after more than a million u.s. troops deployed to iraq. nearly 4,500 of them killed. 32,000 wounded. 130,000 iraqi civilians killed. and the cost, according to a new study, around $2 trillion. perhaps much more. back in 2003, the american people were told the war would be quick and cheap, maybe even paid for by iraqi oil money. >> there is a lot of money to pay for this that doesn't have to be u.s. taxpayer money. it starts with the assets of the iraqi people. >> reporter: it didn't work out that way. u.s. forces stayed for nine years. captain a.j. boyes is now stationed in virginia, married with a six-week-old daughter. >> three buildings down from the building you engaged -- >> reporter: we first met him in 2008 under fire building a wall in baghdad's sadr city.
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he knows iraq has problems now but thinks his unit's sacrifice was worth it. >> the price of freedom is amazing. our unit lost soldiers. we lost friends -- both iraqi and american. it was a very tough sacrifice. but i think in the end, i think it will be okay. >> reporter: what did the u.s. accomplish in iraq? saddam hussein was removed from power. free elections were held and hundreds, maybe thousands of al qaeda-inspired militants were killed. but the war also created thousands more. iraq didn't become a stable u.s.-friendly democracy, but a shiite-led state with close ties to iran, still at war with itself. a big legacy of the iraq war is that extreme reluctance by the white house to become more involved in other foreign conflicts, especially the one in syria right now. here in jerusalem, the president
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is expected to arrive tomorrow. syria is just next door. it will be on the agenda as that conflict gets even more violent. today there are reports in syria of a chemical weapons attack. they are still not confirmed. both sides, the rebels and the government are trading accusations. u.s. officials are trying to determine if chemical weapons were even used. if they were, it could be a tipping point and trigger deeper u.s. involvement. brian? >> richard engel in israel prior to the president's arrival there. richard, thanks. now we turn to the vatican. a remarkable scene today in st. peter's square. pope francis, celebrating his inaugural mass, was out and about in the crowd, kissing babies, hugging the faithful, issuing a call to action, signaling a new emphasis for the church. nbc's anne thompson was there. in fact, anne, you got caught up in it briefly this morning.
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>> reporter: we did, indeed, brian. and, in fact, by vatican standards this was a much simpler ceremony and certainly one that was much shorter. an hour less than benedict's mass eight years ago. another change in style revealing more about this pope named francis. today pope francis preached with action as well as words. climbing out of his open air jeep to bless a disabled man, stopping to kiss children, and urging the 200,000 people in st. peter's square to be protectors of the poor, the weak, and the environment. >> i think he's going to challenge all of us to live a deeper life of faith. >> reporter: as dawn broke, eager crowds raced into the square. they saw francis receive the symbols of power -- a lamb's wool stole signifying his status as shepherd of the flock, and the papal fisherman's ring -- gold plated, not the usual solid gold. during mass to an audience that included several world leaders --
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[ speaking in foreign language ] -- francis said authentic power is service. and the pope, too, must serve. >> he seems like a very humble man. someone the people can reach out and identify with. >> reporter: in buenos aires where francis was a cardinal, jubilation. they stayed up all night to watch the early morning mass and were rewarded by a phone call from the pontiff, who asked them to take care of one another and pray for him. francis's first job says new york cardinal timothy dolan is to clean up the vatican bureaucracy. >> i think he will choose a strong organization man who can restore some pizzazz and transparency and good ardor to the roman curia. >> reporter: francis shared a moment with joe biden, a man with a gentle, approachable demeanor, now charged with restoring the faith of so many shattered by scandal. >> the church is not a one-man show. he's not going to do it all.
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but if he can inspire 1.2 billion catholics to be missionaries then the church has a very bright future around the world. >> reporter: now pope francis made another phone call today. this time to benedict, pope emeritus who watched the mass on television. the two will meet in person this weekend. brian? >> anne thompson at the vatican for us tonight. anne, thanks. we are learning more tonight about how close we came to a shooting rampage, this time at the university of central florida. police have just released video taken from helmet cameras as they responded to a 911 call yesterday about a student with a gun. a fire alarm was blaring the whole time. upon entering the dorm room they spotted his body on the floor and at least two weapons nearby. police say he was working off a checklist of his own making which included pulling the fire alarm and wanting to, quote, give them hell. he turned the gun on himself in the end as police closed in. the prospects for an assault
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weapons ban in the post newtown era took a big hit in the u.s. senate today. majority leader harry reid says he will bring a guns bill to the floor without an assault weapons provision because it just didn't have the support among senators and could block the passage of any bill had it been included. first day of spring is tomorrow. in new england tonight it looks like the dead of winter as a major snowstorm is dropping a foot or more on some places. this is what it looks like right now in auburn, maine, where it was coming down in whiteout conditions in the last hour. they are expecting 12 to 18 inches there. parts of upstate new york as well tonight. behind all of this, bitterly cold air for this time of year anyway. smaller snow squalls around the great lakes. the meteor that rocketed into russia really got our attention a few weeks back. we learned today about the threat of such things to our modern world. in the meteor and asteroid tracking business, they call the big ones city killers.
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while there was very little good news today about our chances of getting them before they get us, there was some talk about future remedies. our report tonight from nbc's stephanie gosk. >> reporter: last month a meteor rocketed into the atmosphere and exploded over russia. frightening because the shock wave blew out windows and injured 1,200 people. >> it came out of the sun. it came from a direction where our telescopes could not look. >> reporter: today at a hearing on capitol hill, leading space scientists told lawmakers the u.s. is not prepared to defend itself against meteors of the same size. >> if you detected even a small one like the one that detonated in russia, headed for new york city in three weeks, what would we do? >> the answer to you is if it's coming in three weeks, pray. >> reporter: scientists say they have identified all asteroids large enough to wipe out the planet like the one suspected of killing off the dinosaurs. there is no immediate risk.
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the concern is meteors that are smaller, but still big enough to take out a city. >> the number of undetected potential city killers is very large. it's in the range of 10,000 or more. >> reporter: the probability of impact is low, they say. but at present funding levels nasa believes it will take almost 20 years to identify them all. what would help is an infrared telescope. the government won't pay for one. but a former astronaut is looking to build the first ever privately funded deep space telescope. nasa is collaborating on the project, but the space agency said it needs more money to identify and develop ways to protect the planet. >> a good segment of the population thinks it's a matter of calling bruce willis. notwithstanding we don't have a shuttle anymore. >> reporter: hollywood's version is definitely a bit dramatic. but scientists say there is reason to be concerned. the meteor in russia was like a shot across the bow.
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stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york. well, we have no choice but to move on. as our broadcast continues, the staggering impact of alzheimer's. one in three seniors will be stricken but there is a new device in the fight. later, the price paid for one of the most iconic dresses ever worn by princess diana.
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as we mentioned, there is news tonight on alzheimer's. new numbers paint a pretty stunning picture of what we are already facing here. that is that one in three americans over 65 dies with alzheimer's or some form of dementia. in total, nearly 5.5 million americans are living with it. that's up 39% in just the past decade. now in the meantime research continues, including thankfully an occasional breakthrough. our report from nbc's tom costello.
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>> reporter: at the ohio state university med center, a new approach to cutting through the fog of alzheimer's. surgeons fitted a patient with two pacemakers, the wires reaching deep into her brain. the patient isn't 78-year-old joe jester or his wife peggy. it's their 57-year-old daughter kathy, struggling with early onset alzheimer's. >> it's sad for peggy and i to go through this with a daughter, you know. especially when it should be us and not her. >> frustration sometimes. >> frustration that you can't remember? >> yeah, sometimes. yeah. >> reporter: because she's young, doctors hope the pacemaker can give kathy a longer, better quality of life. just like a heart pacemaker it fits right under the skin. doctors manipulate the signal to regulate the brain's electrical activity. the signals push through the areas of the brain damaged by alzheimer's connecting with areas that are still healthy.
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>> as the brain gets more gummed up with alzheimer's, there is less connectivity, less functioning of the different parts of the brain and our goal is to increase the connectivity and functioning of the brain. >> reporter: for years a similar treatment helped calm brain activity in parkinson's patients but kathy is the first alzheimer's patient. it's no cure, but already doctors are seeing a big improvement in her ability to concentrate and solve problems. >> speedy today. >> i'm getting smarter. >> reporter: why did you volunteer so quickly? >> because i wanted to be on the cutting edge of the new stuff, the new things. somebody has to do it. >> reporter: cutting edge. just maybe turning the first page on alzheimer's. tom costello, nbc news, columbus, ohio. we're back in a moment with a big women's clothing brand caught up in a big recall tonight.
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she'll soon be ready to accept your tired, poor and huddled masses again soon. we learned today the statue of liberty is re-opening for visitors by july 4th. it's been closed for months after it was damaged by hurricane sandy. a rare alignment tonight will result in a huge power shift in this country that most americans will not feel at all, but it's worth noting anyway. if all goes according to schedule there will be a 20-minute period tonight during which house speaker john boehner will be the ranking u.s. official on american soil. president obama will be in the air en route to israel. vice president biden will be en route back from rome. while this confluence is a first for the obama administration, the white house today reminded reporters the president is the president wherever he goes. it was a glittering night at the white house. 1985, princess diana and john travolta on the dance floor. her midnight blue gown was an instant sensation. it has sold at auction for $362,000 and change to an
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anonymous bidder who wanted to surprise his wife. a big problem for lululemon, the makers of high end popular yoga clothes. they are recalling 17% of the women's yoga pants sold in their stores because they are see-through. they were made too sheer. they show too much. the vancouver-based company will take a financial hit and there may be shortages until their stock can get back up on its feet. when we come back here tonight, a story of progress. schools thinking outside the box and outside the gym to help kids get some exercise.
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>> announcer: stories of progress, brought to you by citi. supporting progress for 200 years. our final story tonight is one of progress for all those school children who have no regular gym class. that's almost half by some estimates, in a nation fighting childhood obesity. tight school budgets and an increasing focus on academics are the reasons the experts cite. some communities are finding ways around it, helping kids learn and grow in a healthier way. the story from our chief education correspondent rehema ellis. >> we want to go straight.
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>> reporter: this may look like an outing for a boating club, but it's a public school gym class. >> keep going! >> you have to use your arms and it also helps you move your legs, too. >> you live longer, stay healthy. >> everything's fun. >> reporter: in miami dade county where 14% of middle school students are obese, there is a new approach to physical education. catering to kids' interests. >> i like the bikes. that's my favorite. >> reporter: to get them up, moving and healthy. >> we are seeing kids over weight losing an average of eight pounds a semester. kids with eating disorders are putting on an average of two pounds a semester. >> reporter: despite strained finances for gym programs, no money turned out to be no problem. why? nearly a decade ago the school district's phys ed director enlisted the help of parents, the principal and superintendents and began raising money. >> we have been able to secure outside grant money, community resources. >> reporter: a school without a
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gym turned a classroom with worn out equipment into a wellness center with high tech, kid-friendly machines. there is dancing, rock climbing, stationery bikes with video games. >> you just have a good time. when you're in here with your friends, you just talk to them. so you don't realize you're working out. >> reporter: besides getting a good workout, by all accounts, the energy kids put into phys ed classes is making them better students. >> any time there is a class after p.e. and phys ed the kids are more on task and more focused. that's a good thing. >> reporter: shaping kids' minds and bodies. >> i feel better. i feel good. >> reporter: by giving them a place to move. rehema ellis, nbc news, miami. >> that's our broadcast on a tuesday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night.
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. nbc bay area news starts now. good evening and thanks for being with us on this tuesday. i'm raj mathai. >> and i'm jessica aguirre. after a dry winter there is a chance we are headed towards a drought. that is why rain is a big deal tonight. the rain is starting to move in. jeff ranieri is in the nbc bay area weather center where he has been tracking the storm. >> we will see the roadways slicken up. for such a dry start in 2013 it will make it dangerous for commuters especially on the coast. you can see we are starting to see intensity over the past 30 to 40 minutes. there is some areas of orange
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and also red. i think the radar is overdoing it a little bit with some of the subtropical moisture. do expect moderate rainfall and a few pockets of heavier rainfall. it is moving to the north and east. starting to get a few returns at the coast line of trace amounts to about .03 inch. it is wrapping up to the mid peninsula. you can see it is producing anywhere from about .1 inch to .29 per hour. we are tracking the heaviest throughout the next 30 to 35 minutes. we will have more on this. we will track it all for you and let you know how long this much needed rain sticks around in the full seven day forecast. shock and awe. it is a somber anniversary, ten years after it started the war in iraq continues to separate
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the bay area. we have multiple reports. sam brock examines the on going cost. we start with cheryl hurd in san francisco with a local iraq war veteran and a potentially historic lawsuit. >> reporter: this cemetery is filled with veterans of wars past. on the tenth anniversary of the iraq war has one army veteran remembering his past in a war he served toot that proved to be controversial to many. on the tenth anniversary of the start of the iraq war he says for him it is a day to reflect. >> i think we had a difficult task in iraq. i think that across all service branches we are able to adapt. >> reporter: adapt he says to what he


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